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House Bill Swaps Clean Transportation for Dirtiest of Fuels
WASHINGTON - February 16 - This week, Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has begun debate on a package of transportation bills that radically reshapes the country’s transportation investments by eliminating all dedicated federal funding for mass transit and for biking and walking safety, and cripples the environmental review process for transportation projects. The bills also opens the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts, as well as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to new oil drilling, while also opening sensitive landscapes in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil shale extraction. Lastly, the bill forces the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite the State Department’s determination that further environmental review of the project would be necessary. In an attempt to secure enough votes for these proposals, House Republicans have now split the bill into three parts, with the energy provisions included in HR 3408 and the transportation provisions included in HR 7. The bills would automatically combine upon passage.
Environment America’s Preservation Advocate Nancy Pyne issued this statement in response:
“Transportation is responsible for one-third of our global warming pollution and two-thirds of our dangerous dependence on oil, but it doesn’t have to be this way—we can invest in clean, efficient travel choices like public transit that will move our nation away from oil and toward a brighter, healthier future. Sadly, this bill throws that future under the bus. This bill will force our country to burn more oil every day by robbing us of clean transportation choices. It’s no wonder the House leadership has had to resort to legislative gimmicks, breaking the bill into pieces to attempt to pass it.
“Furthermore, this bill is yet another attack from House leadership that has proven it will stop at nothing to let Big Oil trash the places we love, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Supporters of this bill want to open our coastlines and our most pristine wilderness areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling—but we need only look to the BP disaster for a tragic reminder that drilling is a dirty and dangerous business. The only way to truly keep our coasts and pristine Alaskan wilderness areas safe is to keep drilling rigs out. Our research shows that clean beaches and healthy oceans are much more valuable than drilling for the last drops of oil off our coasts.
“Moving ahead on oil shale extraction is also incredibly risky. This bill would open oil shale development in sensitive public lands in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, endangering drinking water sources while destroying landscapes and pumping out air pollution at truly alarming rates. Finally, the bill rubber stamps the Keystone XL pipeline, ignoring the real risks of pumping corrosive tar sands through America’s heartland and further deepening our addiction to ever more toxic, high risk forms of oil. If Big Oil could write its own transportation bill, it would look a whole lot like this. The House of Representatives should reject this bill immediately.”